The California Environmental Policy Council is a little known entity, cobbled together first to consolidate permitting at the agency and then expanded in the wake of California’s classic environmental policy failure – MTBE. (Health and Safety Code section 43830.8.) The CEPC, comprised of the heads of the respective siloed departments and boards regulating single media – air, water, land, pesticides, etc – has met only a few times and only to consider whether an additive to fuel, such as MTBE, could have multi-media impacts. The idea was not to repeat the mistake of MTBE where decisions were made to protect the air, without consideration for whether in doing so another more serious environmental harm in another media (e.g., water) could be created.
California’s new green chemistry laws expand the role of the CEPC and that role is about to be tested for the first time on October 27th, 2010 - a mere three weeks away.
Section 25252.5(a) of the green chemistry law requires that:
“Except as provided in subdivision (f), the department, in adopting the regulations pursuant to Sections 25252 and 25253, shall prepare a multimedia life cycle evaluation conducted by affected agencies and coordinated by the department, and shall submit the regulations and the multimedia life cycle evaluation to the council for review."
Subdivision (f) states that "Notwithstanding subdivision (a), the department may adopt regulations pursuant to Sections 25252 and 25253 without subjecting the proposed regulation to a multimedia evaluation if the council, following an initial evaluation of the proposed regulation, conclusively determines that the regulation will not have any significant adverse impact on public health or the environment.
At the hearing, the CEPC will consider a report released on October 6, 2010, entitled “Recommendation on Need for a Multimedia Evaluation of the Safer Consumer Product Alternatives Regulations”. While not yet posted, the report will soon be found at http://www.calepa.ca.gov/cepc . DTSC will provide a presentation on the report and the CEPC will determine whether or not DTSC’s proposed green chemistry regulations or OEHHA’s proposed companion regulations will have a significant adverse impact on the environment. (Information on DTSC regulations and information on OEHHA's regulations).
Comments are due in writing or in email by NOON on October 26th.
Secretary Linda S. Adams, Chair
Environmental Policy Council
1001 I Street, P.O. Box 2815
Sacramento, California 95812
Given the near end of the Schwarzenegger Administration (this hearing will take place less than one week before the November 2nd election for a next Governor), should the CEPC decide that a multimedia evaluation is necessary and subsection (f) (cited above) does not apply, this will certainly have the effect of ending any hope that this Administration could complete the regulations before the new Governor took office in January. The political stakes are high. You might say October 26th is “High Noon” in Sacramento for the world’s consumer product manufacturers.